Thursday, October 20, 2011

Comics of the Week - Three is a Magic Number

It's been a while since I wrote about just one comic. I had every intention of picking only one this week, only the one I really liked best. Then I read book after great book and it was impossible to pick just one. Uncanny X-Men #544 ended the series really well, with nods to the past and an eye towards the future. Supergirl #2 picked up from last issue and delivered good story and character development once again. A lot of potential there for this series. Nightwing #2 had several revelations and several beautiful panels. But at the end of the day, it was these three that took the cake for me.

With the first issue of Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo I was left a little unsure. I'm clearly a Snyder Zombie at this point and with good reason. The dude knows how to tell a story. He hasn't missed a beat yet. But this was a different Batman than what he did on Detective Comics, and the art was screaming just how different it was. Maybe it was just the shock of Capullo's art in that first issue, but I wasn't too enthusiastic, even if I did like it overall. With this issue, I'm all in. Capullo's art works perfectly here, probably because there's a lot more action. Snyder used the first issue as a bit of a re-introduction to the world of Batman, and that's fine, but for me, this is where the story really starts. Batman is up against a secret society that has existed in Gotham for hundreds of years, except he won't accept that they even exist because they are a challenge to his status as a legend. We're going to get Gotham history, which is always interesting, conspiracies, legends and Batman having to come to terms with his status as protector of Gotham. Already, I can tell this will be another legendary run in the making. Right off, we have a new villain in the form of this Society of Owls assassin, that I hope sticks around for a long time. Watching Bruce have to fight this killing machine, as Bruce, was good fun. I can't wait for more.

Speaking of legendary runs, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are quite possibly giving us the definitive Wonder Woman story she's never had. It's still a bit early to tell where this is going, but so far, it looks like exactly what the character needed. It's rooted in Greek mythology, but the way it's presented has more of a realistic touch to it in spite of the fantastical elements. The pairing of the story and art style is probably one of the most perfect in the relaunch. The way Chiang draws Wonder Woman is very different than anything I have seen. The emphasis is on her athleticism, though her grace comes through in her posture. She's not oversexualized at all, and as a matter of fact, her costume is quite respectable, but she is still beautiful and sexy. This may not be appropriate for young girls, given the horror elements that have and will be involved, but this is a book I would love to have my daughter read. And yet, the feminist aspect is just an afterthought. I don't believe the creators are consciously trying to do this. Instead, they are doing what good writers and artists are supposed to do, telling a good story. And the story is good. There's action to be sure, but every moment in this book felt natural to me. I even sensed a little Shakespearean touch here and there, when dealing with the Gods and it seemed appropriate and subtle. Working with mythological elements like this sometimes leads to cliche and too much cleverness on the part of the writer. This is likely where most writers have failed with Wonder Woman. Azzarello has, so far, found the right approach, by using the myths, but not being afraid of making them his own.

It's the second page of this book where a reporter asks a cop "Is it true that Kung Fu related deaths are already up 200% over last year?" And that's when I knew this book was going to be a blast. I wasn't wrong. Wolverine is packing up to leave San Francisco after the events in X-Men Schism (he's going back to Westchester to rebuild the Xavier school). Along the way, he winds up teaming up with Gorilla Man from Agents of Atlas. Together, they uncover a heroin ring that is bringing in the heroin though, well, let's just say unexpected and unconventional means. After reading about Wolverine inadvertently killing his children in the last arc, as much as I loved it, and the events in X-Men, this is a great palate cleanser of an issue from Jason Aaron. The humor in this is right on. Ron Garney's art is clean and bright. This series has been great from the beginning, but it's good to see the tone can change without negating anything that came before. With Aaron writing this book and the upcoming Wolverine and The X-Men, I suspect we'll get more consistency in how he's portrayed and in the events that take place. I am hoping that part of the story will be that he quits the Avengers to focus on the school as it's the only thing that would make sense, unless his other mutant power involves time manipulation of some sort. Or maybe in the Marvel U, the days are 40 hours long. Either way, this is still a great series and I can't imagine anyone else writing Wolverine now.

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